In case this wasn’t abundantly clear, USC has officially met football rock bottom. From the new administration retaining coach Clay Helton after the rumors and innuendo surrounding his job security, to now not being able to recruit its own backyard, disaster has struck in Southern California.
The 2020 early signing period began on Wednesday and the Trojans finished with the worst class in the Pac-12 according to 247Sports. Yes, behind Oregon State and Washington State.
As recently as Wednesday morning, when recruits started signing their letters of intent, there was hope that USC could land a few big recruits and have a respectable class. But Helton and Co. struck out on too many critical prospects, including the No. 1 player in California for the second year in a row. Last year it was defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux from Thousand Oaks who signed with Oregon. This year it was linebacker Justin Flowe, who grew up 40 miles away from USC’s campus in Upland, and also chose the Ducks.
“Oregon is the new USC in recruiting on the West Coast,” USC great Matt Leinart tweeted. “Back in my day no one dared to recruit So Cal. Now it’s open season and Oregon is hunting!”
Former USC coach Lane Kiffin responded with a crying emoji.
The Trojans also had one more shot to lure SI All-American quarterback Bryce Young away from Alabama. While USC wasn’t the only program on Wednesday that thought Young might get cold feet with Tua Tagovailoa’s future with the Crimson Tide undecided, the QB kept his promise and is rolling with Nick Saban. USC also missed on the other two top California quarterbacks in DJ Uiagalelei, who signed with Clemson, and CJ Stroud, who’s heading to Ohio State.
So, who’s to blame? Last month USC hired Mike Bohn away from Cincinnati to replace Lynn Swann as its new athletic director. While it was no secret that Helton’s job status was in jeopardy, Bohn decided to keep the coach despite the 40-21 record he’s compiled over six years at USC.
The Trojans ended up snagging 11 total kids during the early period, the fewest number of signees in the Pac-12. Oregon and Washington combined to get 16 from California.
USC, with the No. 78 recruiting class on 247Sports, should never miss out on top-tier talent, especially from Southern California. And they should never be ranked last in the Pac-12, much less below Louisiana Tech (No. 65) or Bowling Green (No. 77).
But that’s what life is like right now until something changes.